Last night, I came across an interesting article in The Guardian that talked about a video that has gone viral in China. The one-minute clip features a young man and woman having torrid sex in the changing rooms of Uniqlo in Beijing’s shopping and nightlife nucleus Sanlitun. It has, no doubt, irked the Chinese government which lost no time in expressing its displeasure over the content and reprimanded China’s biggest internet firms for allowing the pornographic film to air.
The censors are now working overtime to remove any trace of it and I can't help but think of a 2012 survey that claims 70 per cent of Chinese population now indulges in premarital sex.
Closer home, even as the present government pussyfoots around a porn ban, and we continue to be threatened by an internet cartoon figure like Savita Bhabhi, it is essential that we ask, how different are Indian teens?
Let's do it
With schools increasingly shying away from integrating sex education as part of a mandatory curriculum, our government instead stressing on teaching Sanskrit, as TV channels continue to bleep cuss words and the censor board cuts out love-making scenes – what is breeding within the cloistered confines of our country is starkly different.
It's a fact that 60 per cent of Indians are is less than 35 years old. And, I can’t help but share that not only are Indian teens sexually active at a younger age today, but they are also contracting sexually-transmitted infections in numbers higher than before.
The latest survey by TOI, based on interviews conducted among 15,000-odd teens - aged 13 and 19 - from 20 cities including the metros, states that nearly 8.9 per cent have a history of contracting sexually-transmitted infections at least once.
"The average age of the first sexual contact for boys now stands at 13 years and 14 years for girls. More than 6.3 per cent boys and more than 1.3 per cent girls reported to have had intercourse at least once. The average age at first intercourse in those who had it was 14 years for boys and 16 years for girls," the report further added.
According to another report in the daily, if abortion statistics for 2015 are anything to go by, there has been a significant surge in the cases among girls who are under 15 years of age. In 2014-15 too TOI had reported a disturbing 67 per cent spike in abortions among teenage girls - below the age of 15 - in Mumbai.
Play it safe
"Everyone carries a condom to a college fest, Ma. I mean if I have to play, I’d rather play safe. The last thing I want is a bump..." my niece, 19-plus, and studying English Honours in Kolkata screamed as her mother, my grey-haired cousin. She breaks out into a long-winded soliloquy about her so-called moral corruption and threatens to call her father, posted in the US, saying she should be married off.
The truth is starkly different. And maybe, that’s the larger point desi parents, belonging to another generation, are missing.
Casual sex is cool. No one’s looking for that one anymore. No strings attached encounters first forged on social media sites like Facebook, swapping multiple partners, snorting coke and smoking pot during college socials and night stays, Tinder hook ups and sexting constitute the new language of intimacy. Pleasure means free to play. Not promiscuity that denotes a significant emotional baggage. Abstinence is passé!
Let’s look back a little. A survey of this demography conducted in 2011 by MTV, a leading youth channel, had revealed that mobile phone bills constitute the second biggest form of expenditure in a youngster’s monthly budget. It also found that sexual awareness has picked up somewhere in the late teens and that most youth were sexually active by the time they turned 24.
I have been asked to speak with my niece. She is casual about having lost her virginity last year to a boy who dumped her for an older, married woman he met on an online dating site and claims she and her friends are sexually active, but always keep the Ipill handy, just in case.
What pisses her off is her mother’s sati savitri attitude, she says, adding with hostility, "Just because they don’t f*ck like most married Indian couples. I mean, as if my mom ever told me even about my chums. Have I ever seen her hold hands with baba? I mean she flipped the same way when she saw dada (her older brother, 22, studying engineering in Mysore) shagging, once! Sex is self-discovery!"
We need to stop bullshitting about our sexual truth before it's too late. And what’s the point of not talking frankly about sex?
And banning kissing in public? By not installing condom vending machines in every high school and college hallway and dormitory? Every hotel room? Every mall? Every multiplex?
What swacchta are we so desperate to salvage? The one between our ears? Or between our legs?